McKinley Fire: Native Alaskan Wildfire Survivor Carves Walrus Ivory Into Angel and Firefighter to Say Thank You

#McKinleyFire Wildfire survivor Robert McCoy thought that his home had been destroyed by the fast moving wind-driven wildfire on August 18 2019. Fire crews were able to save Robert’s house and today Robert, an Alaskan Native and artist who works with raw walrus ivory, presented a very special tribute piece to the fire crews. 

Thank you to Robert and everyone who has supported the fire crews with encouraging thank you signs, pre-stamped post cards, and the best gift of all – defensible space around your home and buildings. If you prefer, we post all videos and additional content to support our transparency campaign at our YouTube Channel: tinyurl.com/McKinleyFireYoutube

52 primary residences, 3 commercial structures and 84 outbuildings were destroyed in the fire by the evening of Aug. 18 and into the morning. The Alaska Department of Public Safety, State Fire Marshal, and Alaska State Troopers have been working with the Alaska Division of Forestry and Matanuska-Susitna Borough to assist the communities in dealing with effects of the fire. 

Many of the fire personnel remaining on the incident responded to the 2015 Sockeye Fire. Because these crews live and work in the area, they have recent experience that will help guide their work. One of the main “watch out” situations is for alignments of downed fuels or stacked berms that could create what firefighters call “holdovers”. In a burn area this large and with the burn so deep, to a certain degree a few “holdovers” of hidden heat in berms or ash pits are inevitable. The more work that is completed now, the fewer issues firefighters will have to address next spring.

All power is restored to the area and any residents experiencing issues should call the Matanuska Electric Association. Residences from milepost 81.5 to 92 of the Parks Highway are still in evacuation “Level 1-Ready.”  The Parks Highway speed limit remains 45 mph through the fire vicinity.

Extreme caution and a high level of awareness is urged for residents within the fire perimeter and woodcutters along the Parks Highway.  Deep pockets of burning organic material called ashpits, along with snags pose significant dangers to anyone inside the burn area.  

Disaster Assistance: There are several agencies with information on disaster assistance; please visit Alaska Wildland Fire Information: https://bit.ly/2lzpyZu for detailed contact information. 

The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the McKinley Fire has been lifted.

Video credit: PIO Kale Casey/Alaska IMT/Alaska DOF

#akwildfire #alaskawildfire #dnrwildfire #msbem

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